The water was cold when I jumped in. Anyone who's ever swum in a mountain river or cold spring knows the fastest way to comfort isn't tiptoeing in from the water's edge. It's eyes squeezed shut, knees tucked tight, head down cannonballing the deep end.
I cannonballed into my new culture and although the cold water sent shock waves through my body I came up strong and full of fight and excitement. Caught up in my new surroundings and the dream come true of finally being allowed to swim in this pool, if I even saw the match strike I certainly didn't give it any attention.
I didn't see the wood beneath me start to burn or feel the water heating.
Sudden and increasing sickness scooped me up and although I wanted to swim was forced out of the water. If I hadn't gotten sick I would have stayed. I would have burned.
When you are swimming well and discovering new things everyday, it's hard to recognise the changing water. It's hard to see the flame beneath you growing.
When did I stop worshipping? When did I start to make cultural sensitivity and the desire to be accepted the first place in my life? When did I abandon the most important for the sake of the second?
Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."
(Matthew 22:37-40 The Message)
"When are you going to write again?" Ben asked. "When I can write about all of this well." I responded. When I can see clearly and admit that what kept me in the water was pride and fear.
Pride that getting out would mean admitting I am weak. Fear that by admitting I am weak I will disappoint you.
Pride and fear are liars.
Scooped up onto the water's edge, body recovering from illness, I see with new eyes.
I didn't burn. It was gift.
Culture Shock can take us under, heck LIFE can take us under. The stress of adjustment and challenging of expectations can burn us up.
Today, over at Velvet Ashes others are sharing their stories and perspectives on Culture Shock as well. Check it out.